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Apologies from the guy who said preamps don't matter !!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by pcrecord, Aug 31, 2016.


Does preamps quality make a difference ?

  1. Yes !

    7 vote(s)
  2. No !

    0 vote(s)
  3. What is a preamp ?

    2 vote(s)
  1. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    How about that !! ;)

    Any thoughts ?
  2. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    A good quality pre amp makes a world of difference.

    I like this guys' videos, his Reaper videos are very informative...but whenever I see him I think of Elmer Fudd for some reason.

    I recently picked up an ISA 220...I cannot look at my other pre amps the same again...and its leading to me thinking that its now time to now flip the others.
    pcrecord likes this.
  3. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the ISA family Sean ;)
    Sean G likes this.
  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Yeah. Better lighting, a decent shirt, a shave and a comb would go a long way toward bolstering his credibility.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  5. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    You forgot a shower too
  6. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Fortunately they haven't commercialized smellevision. At least the guy can hear.

    The comparison of the two recordings is pretty useless. The way to compare is to record through a split into both interfaces. The clocks won't quite match but it would be more informative than two different recordings. Do a basic mix with one set of files then swap them out for the other set of files. You'd have to normalize all the files, perhaps set them all to peak at -12dBFS.
    Brien Holcombe likes this.
  7. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Thanks Marco...now I know why you like yours so much.

    Now I wish I had a few more.
    pcrecord likes this.
  8. Chris Perra

    Chris Perra Active Member

    Yeah there's way more going on than just the different interface... I've never used either unit.... but preamps count for sure..
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I got eight ISAs (1x ISA428 and 2 ISA Two) and I've been thinking about the ISA 220 to replace one of my 2 UA LA-610..
    That's how much I love them !! ;)

    Don't get me wrong, I love the LA-610 and the 4-710 I have. But they need very cautious gain staging to avoid saturation (which is what we sometime want so they are nice to have)
    On the other hand, it's very difficult to screw the sound with the ISAs. I could have 2 x 828 and 1 x 220 and be happy !
    My god I can't imagine what it would be with Millennias and/or Graces...
  10. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Anyone had thoughts about the recording and mixing in the video ?? Weren't they a bit crude ? (to be polite)
  11. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    A bit ordinary to say the least...

    I'd say its probably a rough mix put together for the video...I'll give him the benefit of the doubt this once...;)
    pcrecord likes this.
  12. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    "Pre amps don't matter..."

    It sounds like what you would say when you either don't have any or you own really, really cheap ones...or one made by Behringer.

    Edit: Oh my god...buying an ISA has turned me into a pre amp snob

    - Oh the Humanity !
    pcrecord likes this.
  13. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I've long maintained that those who say that "preamps don't matter" have never had the chance to really A/B a nice pre with an "okay" pre.

    Having used my share of both, I can say it's not always a definitive and immediate obvious difference, ( although sometimes it certainly is immediately apparent) but that difference really comes into play when you start adding multiple tracks through the same preamp(s), or when the preamps are pushed. Cheaper pres breakup, and get noisy as the gain is increased, where high quality pres can actually sound better as they are pushed, and are known for their whisper-silent nature, even at higher gain levels.

    The ISA series of preamps are great sounding models; built upon the specs of the original 110 channel module for the famous and highly respected Forte' and Studio consoles. According to the engineers who were lucky enough to actually get to record and mix on the limited number of those consoles made, Focusrite hit it out of the park with the sound of those desks. The Lundhal LL1538 XFO's that were used in the 110 preamps played a part in this sound, and became sought after on their own as well. I've never had the luxury of mixing on a Focusrite console, but I do have an ADK pre with "pop and swap" ability, allowing me to remove and replace various transformers known for their quality and character of sound - and the Lundhal 1538 is one of my go-to faves. Warm, smooth, silky and punchy...

    There's nothing that says that you can't do good work and get "decent" results with a cheaper pre; something like a budget level Presonus or Focusrite, (or even a Behringer), because you can.
    But, for the quality that really separates the "average" sounding mixes from those that stand out as obviously pro, then the quality of the mics and preamps does matter, (and for digital recording, a good converter is also a must) if you want to turn out the same quality of sound that pro studios do.

    There's a reason that the big studios aren't using gear made by Behringer or Tascam; believe me, if they could get the same quality out of those pieces that they do with the high caliber gear they have, they would - because if they could, they could save themselves multiple thousands of dollars, and being in business means cutting outlay cost corners whenever you can, ( hopefully wherever it isn't obvious that you've done so), and turning as high of a profit as possible at the same time.

    No... the reason they choose to use the high quality gear is because it DOES make a big difference in the quality of the final product, and the final product in that case is the sound that they ultimately are able to provide. ;)

    IMHO of course.


    pcrecord likes this.
  15. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I'm glad transformers were mentioned. They are to preamps what preamps are to mics, a fundamental contributor to audio quality. One of my greatest flea market scores was a hand built dual channel direct box with a pair of 70s Reichenbach transformers (still available from Cinemag). I haven't used it a lot but it always sounds sweet. I like it on my AT822 mic that has unbalanced 1/4" output, for feeding long XLR runs.
    pcrecord likes this.
  16. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I agree, you can get decent results with some (not all) of the better prosumer stuff these days.
    The built in DuoPre pre amps in my Allen & Heath Zed12FX are not bad for the price point, neither are the XMAX pre amps in my 1818vsl interface for that matter...they get the job done much better than other pre amp options targeted to the home / project studio market. The Eureka channel strip I have also is good value for money for a transformer coupled pre with added EQ & compressor for how it sounds.

    For me making the jump to the ISA and hearing it for the first time..."that extra 10%" if you could call it that, the difference between the prosumer level pres and the higher calibre pres, well when you hear it, you get it. Its like a light-bulb moment.
    IMO its like the difference between a Hyundai and a Ferrari...both will get you from A to B along the same road on four wheels, but you'll fly under the radar unnoticed in the Hyundai whereas you are going to turn some heads in the Ferrari. Theres' just a better quality engine under the bonnet with those Lundahl transformers.

    And that can be dangerous for your bank balance...because you suddenly start to look differently at those lesser pre amps that have been your ol' faithfuls, your trusted Hyundai's...up to now blissfully unaware of their shortcomings whilst they were getting the job done, getting you from A to B up to the point where you slid your backside into those leather race seats of that Ferrari pre amp. Now you then start looking at those old pre amps with a raised eyebrow and a sense of suspicion...questioning whether you will ever look at them the same way again now you have a taste of that hand-stiched Italian leather...how could anyone ever see you drive down the street again in that old Hyundai now you have been running around town in that flash new Ferrari?....

    And before you know it, your having thoughts of how not just one, but a few of those nice shiny Ferrari's will look in your garage...and thats dangerous to your wallet.;)
  17. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I had the same experience with my first ISA Two unit. With every new highend preamp I got, I would re-evaluate all my mics. Boy, my jaw droped when I heard the sm57 on them...

    I lived the exact same thing going from an old mixer with Delta cards, to a saffire 56 interface with an octopre, to a RME FF800 with my current ISA / UA preamps.
    I can agree that I was able to record in the past and get good results. But today, getting good results is WAY easier ! That's the thing, you get there faster with less effort !
    If I compare EQs I used then and now.. it's a world of differences. I did vocal tracking yesterday; none of my EQ changes were more than 3db !!
  18. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I agree with you there Marco...the quality of the recorded material is much better sonically and there is less to do to try and shape it.
    pcrecord likes this.
  19. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    I don't really know how you can have the opinion that preamps don't matter, if you have any exposure to a professional studio/and or different preamps.

    The differences, imo, are undeniable.

    Unless they are thinking it's placebo. After you hear enough of them, you know it's not placebo.

    Richard Clark had a $1ok challenge, to prove that with amplifiers (no preamp, just the amp section), a clean watt, is a clean watt. Take anything superfluous out of the path, and the $100 amp sounds the same, so long as it remains unclipped, as the $1,000 amplifier. To my knowledge, nobody ever won, and in my opinion the challenge was set up fairly. People could not tell the difference. Even with tube amps, he would just add a resistor to mimic the distortion and people couldn't tell the difference (iirc, and I think I do). It was a very heated topic for a long time.

    My point is, this guy who was pretty influential in certain parts of the audio world, never made such an assertion with preamps. Never. If I could upgrade anything I have to a significantly higher status, it would be my preamp.
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    there was a guy named Julian Hirsch who used to say that all amplifiers sound the same. some have "ears" and some don't. some people can hear the difference others don't. guitar players know better. the difference between a Fender and a Marshall are undeniable. it's the same with pre amps and i agree that nothing is more critical than the mic / pre amp combination. years ago, Ethan Winer tried to argue here that a table top Mackie mixer was as good as anything else. lol! that was when i began to question everything he says. obviously, he can't hear very well.
    Brien Holcombe, audiokid and Sean G like this.

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